A total of 30 fake higher education institutions have been exposed by a Chinese university in an attempt to warn the millions of high school students across the country as they graduate and prepare for further study.
Xinhua, the country's state press agency, has also confirmed the ousting of 400 fake universities since 2013 through the education website sdaxue.com. Founder Xia Xue said the organization receives the names of the fake universities by netizens through email or social media for further investigation. He went on to say that the universities use a number of tactics to make themselves seem like plausible institutions.
"It is easy to see through the trick when they fake the names of well-known universities, but it is more difficult to identify if lesser-known institutions are faked," said Xue.
Xue said that fake institutions typically use names and website designs that are similar to well-known universities in order to go unnoticed by officials. Photographs and course information, among other content, is stolen from actual websites to make them look real. Included in the 30 schools recently listed are the Beijing Xinghua University, the Beijing Foreign Affairs Studies College, the Sichuan Vocational University of Technology and the Beijing Great Wall Research and Studies Institute.
He continued said that the majority of those included in the recently released list, the sixth such list to be released in the last three years, had used the names of private colleges which specialize in adult education in place of the typical practice of using names and websites that closely resemble well-known schools.
Fake colleges use tactics in an effort to trick students into believing they are legitimate higher education institutions so that the students will send them tuition fees. In some cases, students have actually attended the fake schools for multiple years before discovering on their graduation day that they had been duped.
Students are sent enrollment notices alongside a bank account number earlier than they would have received them from a real school. The fake schools then ask students to send tuition fees to the included account before a set deadline, writes Tom Phillips for The Guardian.
Authorities are currently working with the police in an effort to further investigate the schools included on the list, hoping to shut them down, writes Manthan Chheda for China Topix. The schools are located in 12 provinces and regions including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shandong.
So far, three of the fake institutions in the Guangdong, Shandong and Hunan provinces of China were found to be using the same IP address, which was traced back to Hong Kong. Officials believe this to mean that several fake schools were being run by the same individuals.
While the list was publicized in an effort to protect the high school students currently preparing their college applications, not all who enroll in fake universities are victims. Some who do poorly on the gaokao, China's college entrance exam, view the illegal schools as an easy way to obtain a diploma.